What’s the difference between strength training and conditioning?
Do you only do one type of workout? What types of exercise are you doing? Is it more conditioning or strength training? Or are you mixing the two up?
Strength training is exercising with the goal of increasing your physical strength.
Strength training varies in ranges from 1-6 repetitions for an exercise. You are able to build strength by putting a large amount of load and stress on the body. The body is then forced to build muscle and thicken bones in order to take on that load. Building strength results in increased muscle mass, decreased fat percentage, strengthens bones and joints, lowers cholesterol, and improves overall lifestyle. There is something so raw and powerful when lifting a weight so heavy that you can only do it for 3 reps. That overload is what makes you stronger.
When one is strength training they probably aren’t doing the same exercise over and over again. If you have a big lift, a squat, a press, a deadlift, you probably will do it anywhere from 2-5 sets with a range of 1-5 repetitions, with breaks between sets of about 1-5 minutes. So if you did the max sets and max reps you would have done a total of 25 at the end of the day. How many reps of something do you think you do when conditioning?
Conditioning is exercising with the goal of increasing your cardiovascular system’s performance.
You’re still working muscles hard and it may feel like strength training as your weights still feel ‘heavy’, although you are using much lighter weights during exercises that you normally would use more. Look at the rep ranges that you are completing when doing conditioning exercises. How many squats, lunges, push-ups, etc, are you doing?
If you take group conditioning classes you know there’s a lot of reps. It may feel like strength training to you but I assure you, it is not. Higher rep ranges may make you feel like your muscles are going to rip out like the incredible hulk, but in actuality, you will not be building much muscle, if some at all. You can, in fact, build muscle from high rep ranges when lifting weights but due to the alternating exercises that take place in a group conditioning class you are not putting a constant tension on the muscle for a prolonged period of time; you’re going back and forth between exercises, giving the muscles a break.
Conditioning is like strength training for the heart. By doing full body, functional exercises, lots of them, with lighter weights or no weights, your heart is pumping like crazy, pushing blood out to all of your muscles. A stronger heart brings about a myriad of health benefits. Blood vessels remain open and flexible, reducing blood pressure and risk of stroke. Cholesterol is lowered and plaque is kept at bay from building in the arteries, thus reducing the risk of heart attack.
When supplementing your strength training routine with conditioning you are able to get the most out of your workouts. Your body gets almost a de-load day when conditioning, as hard as it is still. It’s less weight and stress on the body, but with higher reps to get your heart working more efficiently. If you are doing just one or the other kind of workouts, you will probably see a much greater improvement in muscle tone, muscle mass, and body fat when you incorporate the other in as well.